The Disc Golf Pro Tour was pushed into the spotlight over the weekend after Natalie Ryan, a transgender female competitor, saw her chances of possibly winning a California tournament disappear due to an appeal of court ruling.
The Professional Disc Golf Association tightened its rules on transgender participation in December, which would have kept Ryan out of the women’s division. She filed a discrimination lawsuit in February, saying the tour’s decision was based on “prejudice,” according to OutSports.
On Thursday, U.S. District Judge Troy L. Nunley granted Ryan a temporary restraining order to allow her to play.
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“It appears there was an intentional act, the creation of a policy, that excludes individuals based on their protected status as transgender women,” Nunley wrote in his decision, according to OutSports. “The Court makes no determinations as to whether this is sufficient to actually establish intentional discrimination, but it raises serious questions.”
The PDGA’s rules state a transgender female may play in the women’s division if they meet one of the criteria laid out – have under 2nmol/L for two years or have had a “medical transition during Tanner Stage 2 or before age 12, whichever is later” and “the player must also continuously maintain a total testosterone level in serum below 2.0 nmol/L.”
Nunley took exception to the transition part of the criteria.
“This section appears to directly target an individual’s sex and gender by creating a temporal line when one must transition,” Nunley wrote. “Those who fail to comport with this timeline are forever barred from the FPO. This policy seems inextricably tied to sex and gender and, at this stage of litigation, the Court can see no way to separate them. Accordingly, the Court finds serious questions going to the merits of the intentional discrimination claim.”
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On Friday, the tour filed an appeal of the ruling and won after Ryan had already completed the first round. Ryan was removed from the tournament after finishing the day in fifth, according to Ultiworld.
“It appears that the district court lacks diversity jurisdiction over the [Disc Golf Pro] Tour because Plaintiff and at least one member of the Tour are citizens of Virginia,” the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals wrote in its decision, via Ultiworld.
The Disc Golf Pro Tour added: “This order restores the DGPT’s ability to enforce its current policy on Gender Eligibility. The DGPT will follow the court’s ruling and enforce its Gender Eligibility Policy which will disallow Ms. Ryan from continuing competition in the OTB Open.”
Ryan vowed in an Instagram post she wasn’t going to back down.
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“I will not be threatened, I will not be intimidated, I will not be erased. It is a breath of fresh air to be competing where I belong,” she wrote. “To all the trans folks out there that love this sport as much as I do, I’m here for you, we all deserve better.”